The United Nations on Monday appealed for 500 million dollars to meet Africa's urgent needs to meet rising world food prices, which may impair development goals and defeat efforts to combat poverty in poor countries. ( dpa )
The appeal was launched at UN headquarters by the African Steering Group meeting to review progress in reaching a set of targets in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including halving the number of people living on less than a dollar a day by 2015.
The MDGs launched in 2000 are now at mid-point, butjust a handful of African nations have achieved some of the goals toward eradicating poverty and hunger, universal primary education, gender equality, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015. Reviews of the MDGs have been made regionally.
"We see important reasons to be optimistic," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, citing child mortality rate reductions in Malawi, progress in water and sanitation in Senegal and advances in primary education in Tanzania.
The group agreed that, with the exception of bringing down maternal mortality, each individual MDG will be reached in several African countries.
"We have seen plenty of successes due to carefully designed programmes and sound policies, backed up by strong government leadership and support from the international community," Ban said.
The group agreed that hundreds of millions of dollars are needed immediately to deal with high food prices and for poor countries to have access to markets and rich countries to reduce subsidies for agricultural products.
The group said the high food prices call for a dramatic increase in additional resources to fight malnutrition and hunger and speed up trade negotiations.
The steering group was composed of leaders of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Union, the European Union, the Islamic Development Bank, the European commissioner for development and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.